Page One


My Father's Horses

It must've been a day
for peace an' reverie
When my father took a pencil in his hand
an' scribed upon his notebook,
all the horses that he'd had
when growin' up in West Dakota land.

I can see him sittin', thoughtful,
soft smile in his eyes,
As the ponies pranced before him, once again.
Then he jotted each one down,
with a slow an' careful hand.
Sometimes, horses, can count right up with kin.

Tobe, Frank an' Muggins,
Daisy I an' Daisy II,
(his mem'ry felt a breeze that stirred their manes.)
Charlie, Chub an' Pearl
found their way up to the front
an' back once more upon the dusty plains.

Prince I an' II an' Mike
come lopin' lightly into view,
he penned their mem'ries, gentle on the page...
a-waitin' an' a thinkin',
he was missin'...just a few
when Queen an' May neared, nickerin' thru the sage.

An' finally, down the draw,
come Thunder, Buck an' Bill
a'flyin' like the wind an' they was one.
then he eased back in his chair,
contemplatin' all that's there,
his gatherin' of the old bunch was all done. must've been a day
of peace an' reverie,
in his office, at a desk of metal gray,
when the ol' man made a tally
a-gatherin' up his cavvy,
One last time, a-fore they slipped away.

© 2007, DW Groethe
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of DW Groethe's poetry here.


For My Dad

He sits and watches the sun sink low
Behind the hills of life.
His thoughts are shattered and his memry's
Are torn apart in strife.

Sometimes he remembers his favorite mare,
Her smooth and easy gait.
And as quick as it came it is gone again
Why oh why can't it wait?

He is pretty sure that this is his hat
However it may not be.
As he sits in a chair and tries to remember
The time when he was young and free.

Yes, there once was a time not like this
When he was a different soul,
One who would rise before the dawn
Just to check out a new- born foal.

A man who has cowboyed all his life,
Who rode for only one brand.
Who did all that he could but still had time
To hold a little girl's hand.

But now the tables have greatly changed
And I am at such a great loss.
A disease has consumed my right hand man
And left me the only boss.

There is no one to answer my questions.
No one to help me feed.
No one to help fix the creaky ole mill.
No one to take the lead.

But he and I can still reminisce 'bout those other days
And about the things that we did together.
We can talk of the cattle, the horses and dogs
The rains and the hot summer weather.

We can talk and I hope that some memory
Will stay with him in his heart
A memry' of times shared together
And how we never will part.

© 2002, Linda Kirkpatrick
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Linda told us:  This photo is my dad, Alton Kirkpatrick, me and a longhorn.  I was very upset when this photo was made and remember every bit of it.  You see my dad made me sit in that saddle, on that longhorn, in a DRESS!!  Now what cowgirl do you know would ride a longhorn in a DRESS!?  I was highly offended that my dad expected me to sit in that saddle in a dress.  That nasty little look that I have on my face is not out of fear of that big ole steer it is because I had to sit up there in a dress!!! Daddy was standing there to keep me from bailing off!!  He carried that photo in his wallet until a few years ago when I talked him out of it!!


Read more of Lariat Laureate runner up Linda Kirkpatrick's poetry here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of


Remembering Fathers

A squeak in the saddle,
     Morning sun in his eyes,
The path twisted and turned
     Toward the crest of the rise.

His granddad and father
     Had each treasured the spot
And resided there still,
     In the old family plot.

A ritual joining,
     In a place close to God,
His ride neared completion,
     On the path that he trod.

To share time with fathers,
     He could never repay
And recall fond memories
     On this, their special day.

As he gained to the ridge,
     In the crisp morning air,
He saw in the distance
     That somebody was there.

He rode up in silence,
     Quite surprised by the sight.
A horse was unsaddled.
     Someone had spent the night.

A campfire still burning,
     An old bedroll laid out,
And smell of hot coffee
     Had removed any doubt.

From behind an old mare
     Appeared a face, smile clad.
A young lady spoke out,
    "Happy Father's Day.....Dad!"

© 2007, Kip Sorlie
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Kip told us about his inspiration for this poem:

In the spring of 1996 I had the opportunity to visit a large ranch in eastern Montana. The ranch had prospered and grown under the ownership  of a rancher who was, also, a successful banker. The small homesteads surrounding the young ranch were acquired over many years. In time, the holdings would total nearly 80 sections.  I was privileged to be allowed access to the 1,000's of acres that comprised the ranch.

Spending some time exploring the land, I discovered several of the old homesteads, in various stages of decay. Each special place demanded investigation. Each place laid its history at my feet. Each place spread its story for my eyes to survey. I hoped that my curiosity could be satisfied by my imagination. Unfortunately, Imagination is not a substitute for the real stories that played out in each special place.

One homestead dated to 1971, by a calendar still hanging in the kitchen. Some distance from the house stood a gnarled old cottonwood tree, which shaded a family plot. The site was enclosed by a white picket fence, freshly painted. The ground within the enclosure had been tended and some
bright red flowers, recently planted, added a touch of color to the fence on each side of the wooden gate. I was surprised by the condition of the small patch of ground.  A sense of mystery evolved when I noted the most recent marker was, also, dated 1971.

After 25 years someone still visited the site. Someone still tended the memories of times and family long passed. I felt a deep sense of admiration for the stranger who still bound this family together, past to the present and on into the future.

That afternoon I returned to the ranch headquarters. Approaching the barn and corral area I encountered A lady in her thirties with a boy in his teens, perhaps a son. They had unloaded horses from a small trailer and were about to ride off as I arrived. We nodded and exchanged greetings as we
passed. Each saddle carried a bed roll. One carried a shovel, the other, a bundle of bright red flowers.

"Remembering Fathers" was an attempt to recapture the intensity of the feeling that flooded through my veins from that extraordinary experience.  I hope that I have been, at least partially, successful.


Read more of Kip Sorlie's poetry here.


Dancing with Dad

I wakened this morning, humming some sweet refrain,
To the best dream that I've ever had.
I closed my eyes tight, so the dream would remain,
For I dreamed I was dancing with Dad.

Dancing with Dad to the fiddle's sweet sound,
How I wished we could dance just one more!
My blue skirt was whirling and swirling about,
And we twirled and we whirled round the floor.

I could feel his arms round me just like in years past,
When I heard his sweet voice humming low
The tune that was playing as we skimmed the floor;
Was it fifty or more years ago?

Dancing with Dad, I was dancing with Dad.
How I hope when God calls from afar,
As celestial strings play a heavenly waltz,
Dad will dance me off into the stars.

© 2001, Dee Strickland Johnson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Honored Guest Buckshot Dot's poetry here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of



When the echo of a thousand thunders rolls across the barren plain
And I'm called beyond the silver-dusted peaks.
As lightning flashes from east to west in one brilliant, unbroken chain,
I will answer to the One whose shadow speaks.

Far past the point of my control, a slave to natural order I must be
And the power of His voice will chill me to the bone.
Yet, I've been gifted with the confidence that when that passing comes to me,
I will never have to make that trip alone.

Through gilded clouds, beneath fields of stars, toward a land unimagined in my dreams,
Where east meets west and up finally touches down.
Where surreal landscape passes by, as ghostly as the seascape gleams,
And the rugged wilderness receives her crown...

There, I see a river glisten in a moonlight night,
And a wagon waits with horses handy, all hitched up to offer me a ride.
And I see the wise, young driver, he flashes me a smile...
It's my father, fine and dandy, and he's waiting on the other side.

© Virginia Bennett
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Sharp as his long-term memory,
Dad's pocket knife unfolds in my hand.
Too keen an edge to run your finger over...
His touch, long ago, wore off the brand.

This was something important to him
And I can still see him wipe and hone
The thinning blade, rhythmic, along the strop
Or swipe it across his smooth whet-stone.

It's a long-lost, antique art that was valued
And a man was often judged by the blade
Of his scythe or his axe or pocket knife,
His sickle, his runners or his spade.

At first, I reveled at its feel in my pocket
And thought of him whenever I cut a string
From a bale of mountain meadow hay,
In awe of the treasure of such a thing.

But, then I realized that this little knife
Was my inheritance and could not be replaced
And the fine, cutting edge put there by his hands
Seemed something too precious to waste.

© 1998, Virginia Bennett
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Dad Was Like a Colt

Dad was like a colt to me
His spirit fought to be let free.
I tried like hell to hold him tight
I tied 'im fast, and tied 'im right.
I invested more than I ever should.
I hobbled him down (as if I could!)
He kicked against my ropes and reins
I tried new bits with new curb chains.
'Til finally, I learned, since he struggled so,
I might just well as let him go.

© 1997, Virginia Bennett
 This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Virginia Bennett and her father, New Mexico, 1970s

Virginia Bennett comments:

I lived alone with my dad while I was growing up, and he and I had a special closeness. Later, even thousands of miles did not separate us in spirit, and we called each other every Saturday night, when I'd tell him of horse-training predicaments or challenges I was having. He delighted in putting himself mentally into those situations and giving me ideas and pointers. When he died unexpectedly, it was darn hard for me to let go of that relationship with a guy who was my champion and cheerleader for all of my life. I was blessed to have such a dad, and this poem is for him.

Virginia Bennett recites this poem on the first volume of The BAR-D Roundup.

Read more of Virginia Bennett's poetry here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of



We work to make a living till
     We can forget to live.
We try so hard to win it that
     We lose what life will give.

Until some little token
     Puts the meter in the rhyme,
A simple thing plumb hidden out
     In plain sight all the time.

A little calf a buckin’ out
     Across the morning dew,
The orange, green and purple of
     A sunset painted hue.

The morning’ star a shinin’
     Up above a horse’s ears,
Some mem’ry of a loved one that’s
     Been tucked away for years.

A day spent with the family or
     A phone call from a friend,
A dog so glad to see ya
     It wags its whole rear end.

I think these gifts He gives us just
     To make the rest worthwhile,
All the worry and the frettin’
     The rope burns and the miles.

Some make you stop and chuckle,
     Some take your breath away,
Some one in a million
     Others happen every day.

So if you’re young and reckless or
     You’re wise and stiff and old,
If you’re sharpenin’ your pencil or
     You think your story told.

These gifts appear like magic
     I’m standin’ here to say,
Like a little blue eyed button
     Whisperin’, “Pappy...wanna play?”

© 2011, Darin Brookman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Darin comments, "My little granddaughter Hadyn inspired that poem. It seems a two-year-old has ways of reminding you of what is really important and how much fun it is to play."

Read more of Darin Brookman's poetry here.


A Cowboy's Opus

"Tho Dad couldn't read a note, sing a melody, or write a song,
 I'll play for you, his masterpiece, if you'll quietly listen along.
Put your daily cares away, relax and close your eyes.
 The overture begins with the sound of a breeze's soft sigh.

Soon you hear the melody of tall, prairie grass ruffled by the wind.
 A meadowlark's trill announces sunrise in the place of violins.
Cottonwood leaves rustle harmony from the grove in the creek bend.
 You hold your breath and still your heart, never wanting the song to end.

As the sun's first golden rays light up the windmill's whirring blades,
 Ol' Rooster announces the new day while clucking hens join his serenade.
Hear the hissing' streams of milk, as cats twine 'round the milk cow's legs,
 And children laughin' at their antics when Dad squirts kittens as they beg.

Boots clumpin' in the back porch, as we all wash up to eat.
 A quiet blessing is said once everyone takes their seat.
"Pass the pancakes."  "More syrup, please," accent the breakfast table sounds
 While coffee perks, bacon sizzles, and the farm report plays in the background.

The singular sound of sweet feed shaken in a dented, old coffee can,
 Have all the horses' eyes and ears on you as you lure them with the pan.
Curry combs run through manes and tails, brushes sliding' o'er horse hair.
 Saddles heaved on high, strong backs. Leather cinches tightened with care.

No need for words as you ride with Dad up the trail and into the Breaks.
 Both horses shy from a jumble of boulders as you hear the buzz of a rattlesnake.
You calm your horses with low, soothing words and gentle pats on their necks.
 Dad snorts and laughs about how the both of you avoided one heck of a wreck.

The wind comes up and makes the fence wire hum while Dad opens up a gate.
 We drop off the rise and onto the flats.  The sound of the wind soon dissipates.
Snaps rattle and clink against bits as reins swing and sway like pendulums.
 Hooves, keep time, hitting' the sod with the sounds of muffled drums.

The saddle creaks, stirrup leathers squeak as your bodies rock to and fro.
 Buckles and spur rowels add the tinklin' and plinklin' of minstrel banjos.
While stopped in the bend of a coulee, a red-tailed hawk scolds from high overhead.
 She follows us down the creek as through the trees and brush we thread.

Prairie dogs bark, "DANGER!" when we pass their homes dug in the sod.
 A rabbit thumps a warning while hidden in a patch of tall goldenrod.
At times it grows so quiet, you hear the measured beating of your heart,
 And you realize that the Divine Composer has given you both a part.

Very few words are spoken as we ride the circle home side by side.
 We're both lost in the Music that this way of life provides.
"Don't take this song for granted, 'cause it's the Lord's gift to just us few."
 Dad warns, "It's our job to protect this land and all that we purview.

"Each critter does its share and adds the music of its way of life.
 This is God's way of showin' us a glimpse of Redemption's Afterlife."
No philharmonic orchestra can hold a candle to the music of ranch work.
 Dad's Cowboy Opus taught us kids the reverence of God's handiwork.

Dedicated to my Dad, George B. Prell, (1922-1979) Wyoming rancher and great horseman well-known for his honest horses.  As a youth, he trailed one of the last great herds out of southern Wyoming and into eastern Montana.  They never had to open a gate.

©August 21, 1997 by Janice E. Mitich
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Dad, with Little Star (bay) and Red Head (pinto), our two ponies hitched to the buggy in Nana's backyard. (Newcastle, Wyoming in 1949 or 1950.  Joyce and I could often be seen driving around Newcastle.  We thought we were really "hot" to be driving at the age of 5.


Read more of Lariat Laureate runner up Janice Mitich's poetry here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of



Father to Father



             FATHER TO FATHER


             FATHER TO FATHER

© 2004, Curly J Productions
Words and Music Curly Musgrave, BMI All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

In the liner notes to his Range & Romance CD, Curly writes about this song: "I have two sons in their thirties (hard to believe, I know). Jim and Jon mean the world to me and I couldn't imagine ever giving them up for anything or anybody.  Jon and I moved some cattle one day and as he rode up beside me, the thought came again about God sacrificing His son for the world.  Good thing for mankind I wasn't asked to do that.  Lots of dads have told me they heard this song and began to think differently about their boys and what God might have gone through."

Read more of Curly Musgrave's  poetry and lyrics here.


Eyes of a Cowboy

He stepped out of his pickup truck and walked over to the corral
I watched him out of the corner of my eye standing quiet and tall
When I finished saddling up the colt I looked him up and down
He looked like a cowboy although he had just come from town

It wasn't in the way he dressed but he was wearin' a hat and boots
Or the fancy yoke cut Cowboy shirt that fit him kind of loose
His jeans were creased and ironed and looked like they was new
But when I looked him in the eyes I saw that he was true

The soft quiet determination that reveals that common bond
And only a life with horses can make them look that warm
You see it at the rodeos on the older men who've lived the dream
It's like the cool clear mountain run off that gently fills a stream

He nodded and I could see the appreciation shinin' in his eyes
As he watched the colt I was working stand quietly and sigh
They say that the eyes of a man are the windows to his soul
A lot of folks are smarter than me and I guess they ought to know

True horsemen know and recognize the calm even in a storm
How love and quiet compassion can keep you safe from harm
No it's not the way you wear your hat or a shiny buckle's glow
It's in the heart and soul of Cowboys that their eyes always show

Many years ago there was a man that I loved and knew well
He said if you look a man in the eyes you can always tell
He may lie to you using words or trick you with his hands
But his eyes will always give him away capturing the man

A lifetime spent with horses teaches calmness in your soul
A oneness with god and nature like things honest and old
Grandpa always had that look and my dear old daddy too
In their eyes you could tell they were cowboy through and through

Now as I look at this man I see the same look in his eyes
That same quiet strength that I know and recognize
And my heart fills with pride as I look and understand
I see the eyes of a Cowboy in my son growed into a man.

© 12/29/02, Tom Hanshew 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Tom Hanshew's poetry here.



Udoda (Father)

My Father wears a coat of many colors
for all the world to see,
that deep inside his soul
beats the heart of a Cherokee.

What have I learned from his spirit,
and his laughing, loving ways?
I learned the past belongs to the present.
Not to waste my younger days.

The stories of my ancestors
are his legacy to me.
That honoring them and who they were
determines who I will be.

I am my Father's daughter
and I can only hope,
that one day I will be worthy
to wear my Father's coat.

© 2002 Debra Coppinger Hill
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Debra Coppinger Hill and her father Sham Coppinger
Photo by Dara Hill

Debra writes about her father: "He is a great man. A real Dad who has taught us pride in our Cherokee ancestry and family ties. He has many talents. If I were to sum him up for you I would write; Sham Coppinger: Husband, Father, Grandfather, Surveyor, Poet, Artist and Cherokee. The title to the poem is the Cherokee word for Father."


Wild Stickhorse Remuda 

   Ponytails and blue jeans
Sat at Papaw's knee,
Watching as he whittled
On old branches from a tree.
    And while he talked of cowboys
And big old Texas ranches,
He trimmed away the rough spots,
While I dreamed of pony dances.

     A wild stick horse remuda
Began to run and play,
With every loving stroke, 
As he peeled the bark away.
     Using his "Old Timer" 
And carving in my brand,
The best that he could find
And cut and shape with his own hand.

     Now, each one of them was special,
And I felt I was too,
As they kicked up dust behind
This cowgirl buckaroo.
     With reins of pink hair ribbon,
Shoe strings and baling twine,
There was "Buckin' Birch" and "Oakie,"
And "Ole Sticky" made of pine,

     "Sassafras," and "Blackjack,"
"Willow," "Blaze," and "Scat,"
I never did corral 'em --
I just left 'em where they sat.
     But next mornin', on the front porch,
'stead of roamin' wild and free,
They'd found their hitchin' rail,
‘cause Papaw lined 'em up for me.
     Along our trails together
There were many lessons learned,
Like bein' a cowboy through and through
Is something that you earn
     We'd partner up together,
And team up in cahoots,
Once he defied my Mama,

Bought me red cowboy boots.

     And often, when I wondered
What to do on down the road,
He'd always tell me, "little girl,
When you get there you will know,"
     Sometimes you have to let things go,
Sometimes you stand and fight,
And anything worth doin',
Is still worth doin' right.

     With my wild stick horse remuda,
We rode the range for miles,
I knew I'd won my Papaw's heart
By the way he'd laugh and smile,
     I still have his sweat-stained Stetson,
His boots, and his old knife,
Sometimes I take them out
Just to measure up my life.
     And hold him closer to my heart,
And know I have to try,
To live up to the honor
Of the wonder-days gone by.
     On my stick horse remuda,
I learned the cowboy way,
I’d give up everything I own
To ride with him today.

    My wild stick horse remuda
Was quite the varied band,
Born and bred with me in mind
And trained by his own hand.
     I’m longing for the legends,
And the way we used to roam,
With my wild stick horse remuda,
And the man that we called "Home."

Copyright© 2000 Debra Coppinger Hill, with editing and music by Devon Dawson
Based on the © 2000 poem “My Stick Horse Remuda” by Debra Coppinger Hill

In loving memory of Ralph W. Gass...Papaw...who taught me who I was and gave me my love of the West.

My good buddy Devon Dawson the voice of Cowgirl Jesse on the Disney/Riders in the Sky Toy Story II music CD "Woody's Round-up" read it, liked it, and has adapted it as a song.

(In February, 2001 a Grammy was awarded to "Riders In the Sky" for their Disney recording, which also featured Debra Hill's good buddy and  Fort Worth's own singin' yodelin' cowgirl, Devon Dawson, known as "Miss Devon" of "The Texas Trailhands," a popular cowboy swing band based in Fort Worth.)

Read more of Honored Guest Debra Hill's poetry here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of

America's Heroes

"Our heroes have always been cowboys"
But what does that really mean?
Is it Vince, or George, or John Wayne,
In a white shirt and tight blue jeans?

Is it Saturday morning serials,
Where Tim and Hoppy rode?
Is it Tom and B-Grade Westerns
Where the hero was never throwed?

Could it be the Lone Ranger lunchbox,
Or paper dolls of Roy and Dale,
Or the rodeo at the fairgrounds,
Or shaking hands with Gene at the rail?

Could it be lessons from Daddy?
"Carry your load and beyond."
"Share a meal with a traveler."
"Let your word be your bond."

Could it be that it's all the above?
With other things thrown in, too--
Like grandpas and daddys standing tall,
Showing us what to do.

The movies and toys and music
Remind us of days long ago
When men were honest, truthful, and just,
So kids knew which way to grow.
Those cowboys are America's heroes,
And lived the Cowboy Code-
Loved God and Mama and horses,
Proud of the trail they rode.

But the greatest hero of all
At least that I've ever knowed
Was the man who was my daddy--
He lived the Cowboy Code.

He never talked to be talking,
Just when he'd something to say.
He never took without asking,
Always wanted to pay.

His handshake was good as a contract--
His word he wouldn't break;
He knew a man's name's important
When his reputation's at stake.

He always worked harder than most--
Earned his day wages fair;
Knew how to get along with the boss
And treat his partners square.

Never let a man go away
Hungry outside the door--
He'd feed him first, then let him work,
Then pay him something more. 

He asked no questions of the strays--
Expected honest work.
He knew each one could have been him
Had God not been at work.

Married his sweetheart and loved her
Through years of good and bad;
Corn and cattle won't make you rich--
They did with what they had.

He raised his fam'ly trusting God
For food and health and rain--
When he saw strength was running out,
He'd pray and not complain.

Throughout the years as pain increased,
He smiled and loved us more;
Remembered not the times I'd failed--
He'd not been keeping score.

So this man's always my hero;
Gave wisdom to the end--
He'd led in the right directions
And always been my friend.

Yes, I grew up with a cowboy
And learned the Code of the West;
I gauge my heroes next to him--
Make sure they pass the test.

© 2002,  Francine Roark Robison
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Lariat Laureate runner up Francine Roark Robison's poetry here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of



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